Somatic and Germline Variants and Coronary Heart Disease in a Chinese Population

JAMA Cardiol. 2024 Jan 10:e235095. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2023.5095. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Importance: The genetic basis of coronary heart disease (CHD) has expanded from a germline to somatic genome, including clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP). How CHIP confers CHD risk in East Asian individuals, especially those with small clones (variant allele fraction [VAF] 0.5%-2%) and different genetic backgrounds, was completely unknown.

Objective: To investigate the CHIP profile in a general Chinese cohort by deep sequencing and further explore the association between CHIP and incident CHD considering germline predisposition.

Design, setting, and participants: This cohort study used data from 3 prospective cohorts in the project Prediction for Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease Risk in China. Participants without cardiovascular disease or cancer at baseline were enrolled in 2001 and 2008 and had a median follow-up of 12.17 years extending into 2021.

Exposures: CHIP mutations were detected by targeted sequencing (mean depth, 916×). A predefined CHD polygenic risk score (PRS) comprising 531 variants was used to evaluate germline predisposition.

Main outcomes and measures: The main outcome was first incident CHD.

Results: Among 6181 participants, the median (IQR) age was 53.83 years (45.35-62.39 years); 3082 participants (49.9%) were female, and 3099 (50.1%) were male. A total of 1100 individuals (17.80%) harbored 1372 CHIP mutations at baseline. CHIP was independently associated with incident CHD (hazard ratio [HR], 1.42; 95% CI, 1.18-1.72; P = 2.82 × 10-4) and presented a risk gradient with increasing VAF (P = 3.98 × 10-3 for trend). Notably, individuals with small clones, nearly half of CHIP carriers, also demonstrated a higher CHD risk compared with non-CHIP carriers (HR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.02-1.74; P = .03) and were 4 years younger than those with VAF of 2% or greater (median age, 58.52 vs 62.70 years). Heightened CHD risk was not observed among CHIP carriers with low PRS (HR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.64-1.64; P = .92), while high PRS and CHIP jointly contributed a 2.23-fold increase in risk (95% CI, 1.51-3.29; P = 6.29 × 10-5) compared with non-CHIP carriers with low PRS. Interestingly, the diversity in CHIP-related CHD risk within each PRS group was substantially diminished when removing variants in the inflammatory pathway from the PRS.

Conclusions: This study revealed that elevated CHD risk attributed to CHIP was nonnegligible even for small clones. Inflammation genes involved in CHD could aggravate or abrogate CHIP-related CHD risk.